Skin aging and free radicals

Aging is an inevitable fact of life and we all get older every day. However, thanks to improvement in health care and nutrition, the average life expectancy has increased dramatically.

According to data from the US Social Security, a man reaching age 65 today can expect to live, on average, until age 84.3 and a woman turning age 65 today can expect to live, on average, until age 86.6.

Nevertheless, it is not age itself that bothers us, but the visible signs of aging that can make us feel old despite the fact that we feel young and vital. The health and look of our skin – whether on our face or on our body – plays a major part in how old we feel, and is seen as the most common indicator to others of our age.

Many things cause our skin to age. Our genes largely control the aging process and the visible signs on our skin. With time, we all get visible lines on our face. It is natural for our face to lose some of its youthfullness. We notice our skin becoming thinner and drier. This is called “intrinsic aging” and there is nothing that we can do about it. On the other hand “extrinsic aging” which depends on our environment and lifestyle choices can cause our skin to age prematurely. By taking some preventive actions, we can slow the effects that this type of aging has on our skin.

Some dermatologists suggest that as much as 80% of complications associated with skin aging are the result of sun exposure. Regardless of the precise percentage, if you are looking for proof of the effects of sun, simply compare the skin on your face and back of hands with the skin on a part of your body not often exposed to the sun.

UV rays emitted by the sun create free radicals that damage the skin’s cell and destroy the collagen and elastin in the dermis, resulting in wrinkles and sagging skin. UV rays also act as an accelerator for the production of skin pigment (melanin), resulting in the appearance of sun spots or age spots.

What are Free Radicals and Oxidative Stress?

The definition of free radicals according to Webster’s new College Dictionary is:
“An atom or molecule having at least one unpaired electron: free radicals are usually very reactive and unstable, and can damage healthy body cells “.

One group of free radicals which is a byproduct of mitochondrial oxygen metabolism processes is Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS). The ROS group always contains Oxygen or Per Oxides and is highly unstable. ROS can also be generated as a result of ionizing radiation such as UV radiation.

The body deals with the free radicals, more specifically ROS, via specific enzymes that break them down or neutralize them or through antioxidants such as vitamins C and E. Antioxidants prevent oxidative reactions, often by scavenging ROS before they can damage cells.
Normally, the body can handle ROS, but if antioxidants are unavailable, or if the ROS production becomes excessive, damage can occur which is labeled “Oxidative Stress”.

Of particular importance is that ROS damage accumulates with age. This can be as a result of increased ROS production combined with a decrease in cellular antioxidant activity. Exposure to UV, stress, smoking and alcohol can increase ROS levels in the skin. The free radicals will alter the structure of our proteins, therefore damaging the collagen and weakening cellular structure.

How to reduce the effect of free radicals on the skin?

The best way is prevention: first, avoid UV damage by limiting exposure to sunlight during peak hours. In addition, always apply sunscreen when going out in the sun. It is also important to avoid smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.

The NowmMi treatment can also help you to reduce the effects of free radicals. A weekly treatment can help you to dramatically boost the amount of vitamin C and E antioxidants in your skin and protect against extrinsic aging.